This article was originally published on philly.com by Mary Cushing Doherty on Nov. 16, 2015
Divorce is difficult. It can be painful, exhausting, debilitating, and expensive. In Pennsylvania, it can also take a long time.
While it’s true that divorce grounds can be established in 90 days if both parties consent, many times one spouse will refuse for a variety of reasons: anger, financial dependence, or just to inflict pain on the initiating party. Sometimes, the non-consenting spouse wants to save the marriage. In most cases, the request for reconciliation leads to three mandatory marriage counseling sessions.
Initially, the two-year waiting period was intended to enhance the opportunity for reconciliation. Realistically, however, reconciliation happens for reasons unrelated to this delay.
Divorce is typically a last resort, and an additional waiting period is unnecessary. Spouses seeking a divorce likely have worked on their marriage for years; they may have talked, and cried, and hoped, and tried to maintain their relationship. In the end, at least one of the parties has already considered alternatives, and still feels the need to walk away.
Pennsylvania’s waiting period after separation or filing for divorce keeps spouses in limbo for three years or more, making it difficult for them to begin their healing process. During this time, bitterness ferments, while all aspects of the divorce remain up in the air: custody agreements aren’t final, financial arrangements are uncertain, and decisions aren’t made around marital assets such as the home. Children often don’t know where they will live or what school they will attend, which is detrimental to their development.
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